Drumbeat - Madrid - Stephen Marlowe - ebook

Drumbeat - Madrid ebook

Stephen Marlowe

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Opis

In Spain for a wedding, Drum must rescue the kidnapped bride. Although a fugitive from twenty-six world governments, Axel Spade has minimal trouble crossing the border into Spain. Though briefly arrested, the guards let him go when they learn the identity of his future father-in-law: Colonel Santiago Sotomayor, whose name can open the lock of any Spanish dungeon. And so Spade and his best man, Washington PI Chester Drum, cross the frontier. Sotomayor is not thrilled to see his daughter become the sixth Mrs. Spade, but he has given his begrudging consent. The wedding party comes off like any jet-set gathering, complete with one of the fiancée's ex-lovers making threats against Spade's life. But one key piece never arrives: the bride. She has been kidnapped, and to get her back, Drum and Spade will pit their wits against the toughest thugs and slipperiest bureaucrats that Fascist Spain has to offer. Review quote: "Very few writers of the tough private-eye story can tell it more accurately than Mr. Marlowe, or with such taut understatement of violence and sex." - The New York Times Book Review. "Drum sleuths to his own beat; he is a strong private investigator, who hooks the audience in each tale, short or long." - Harriet Klausner Book Reviews. "Marlowe's buoyant skill and credibility lie in the way he has put breath into [his] characters." - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Langton's sparkling prose and inimitable wit offer a delectable feast for the discriminating reader." - Publishers Weekly. "Like Jane Austen and Barbara Pym, Langton is blessed with the comic spirit - a rare gift of genius to be cherished." - St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Biographical note: Stephen Marlowe (1928-2008) was the author of more than fifty novels, including nearly two dozen featuring globe-trotting private eye Chester Drum. Born Milton Lesser, Marlowe was raised in Brooklyn and attended the College of William and Mary. After several years writing science fiction under his given name, he legally adopted his pen name, and began focusing on Chester Drum, the Washington-based detective who first appeared in The Second Longest Night (1955). Although a private detective akin to Raymond Chandler's characters, Drum was distinguished by his jet-setting lifestyle, which carried him to various exotic locales from Mecca to South America. These espionage-tinged stories won Marlowe acclaim, and he produced more than one a year before ending the series in 1968. After spending the 1970s writing suspense novels like The Summit (1970) and The Cawthorn Journals (1975), Marlowe turned to scholarly historical fiction. He lived much of his life abroad, in Switzerland, Spain, and France, and died in Virginia in 2008.

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Contents

Cover

About the Book

About the Author

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

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About the Book

In Spain for a wedding, Drum must rescue the kidnapped bride.

Although a fugitive from twenty-six world governments, Axel Spade has minimal trouble crossing the border into Spain. Though briefly arrested, the guards let him go when they learn the identity of his future father-in-law: Colonel Santiago Sotomayor, whose name can open the lock of any Spanish dungeon. And so Spade and his best man, Washington PI Chester Drum, cross the frontier.

Sotomayor is not thrilled to see his daughter become the sixth Mrs. Spade, but he has given his begrudging consent. The wedding party comes off like any jet-set gathering, complete with one of the fiancée’s ex-lovers making threats against Spade’s life. But one key piece never arrives: the bride. She has been kidnapped, and to get her back, Drum and Spade will pit their wits against the toughest thugs and slipperiest bureaucrats that Fascist Spain has to offer.

Review quote:

“Very few writers of the tough private-eye story can tell it more accurately than Mr. Marlowe, or with such taut understatement of violence and sex.” - The New York Times Book Review.

“Drum sleuths to his own beat; he is a strong private investigator, who hooks the audience in each tale, short or long.” - Harriet Klausner Book Reviews.

“Marlowe’s buoyant skill and credibility lie in the way he has put breath into [his] characters.” - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“Langton’s sparkling prose and inimitable wit offer a delectable feast for the discriminating reader.” - Publishers Weekly.

“Like Jane Austen and Barbara Pym, Langton is blessed with the comic spirit - a rare gift of genius to be cherished.” - St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

About the Author

Stephen Marlowe (1928–2008) was the author of more than fifty novels, including nearly two dozen featuring globe-trotting private eye Chester Drum. Born Milton Lesser, Marlowe was raised in Brooklyn and attended the College of William and Mary. After several years writing science fiction under his given name, he legally adopted his pen name, and began focusing on Chester Drum, the Washington-based detective who first appeared in The Second Longest Night (1955).

Although a private detective akin to Raymond Chandler’s characters, Drum was distinguished by his jet-setting lifestyle, which carried him to various exotic locales from Mecca to South America. These espionage-tinged stories won Marlowe acclaim, and he produced more than one a year before ending the series in 1968. After spending the 1970s writing suspense novels like The Summit (1970) and The Cawthorn Journals (1975), Marlowe turned to scholarly historical fiction. He lived much of his life abroad, in Switzerland, Spain, and France, and died in Virginia in 2008.

Drumbeat – Madrid

A Chester Drum Mystery

Stephen Marlowe

BASTEI ENTERTAINMENT

 

Bastei Entertainment is an imprint of Bastei Lübbe AG

 

Copyright © 2014 by Bastei Lübbe AG, Schanzenstraße 6-20, 51063 Cologne, Germany

 

For the original edition:

Copyright © 2012 by The Mysterious Press, LLC, 58 Warren Street, New York, NY. U.S.A.

 

Copyright © 1966 by Fawcett Publications, Inc.

 

Project management: Lori Herber

Cover adaptation: Christin Wilhelm, www.grafic4u.de

Cover design by Kathleen Lynch

 

E-book production: Jouve Germany GmbH & Co. KG

 

ISBN 978-3-95859-200-1

 

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All rights reserved, including without limitation the right to reproduce this e-book or any portion thereof in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the publisher.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

For

UNAAND CORWIN HUMBERT

ONE

The road climbed steeply to the top of the pass, leaving a final stand of wind-stunted pine trees behind like the fading memory of a softer landscape. Ahead loomed wrinkled gray hillsides that resembled the flanks of ponderous old elephants. The road plunged between them toward where a red and yellow Spanish flag was flapping above the border station in the high mountain wind.

Axel Spade turned to me. “This is going to be good,” he said. He slowed the sleek Jaguar XK-E to a stop in front of the border station. A pair of hard-eyed members of the Guardia Civil hanging around outside gave us the once-over from under their patent leather hats. One of them turned a little, the butt of the machine pistol slung over his shoulder catching the sunlight. He looked at the Jag’s license plate. It was Swiss. He looked at Axel Spade and at me. He hooked a thumb under the shoulder strap of the machine pistol.

“I mean,” Axel Spade said, “they may not have got word to the Guardia up here in the mountains. They expected us on the coast road at Irún.”

But in July the coast road had been mobbed with tourist cars heading south. We’d come through the mountains instead.

“And you’re wanted by the police in Spain,” I said. “What do we do, shoot our way across the border?”

Axel Spade chuckled. “Naturally,” he said.

We got out of the Jag and went inside the border station. A gray-haired man in a green uniform stood behind a long counter. A colored photograph of the Caudillo looked down unsmilingly on us. We plunked our passports down on the counter. The gray-haired man thumbed through them.

“How long will you stay in Spain?” he asked in Spanish. He looked bored.

“A week or ten days,” Axel Spade said.

“Have you been to Spain before?”

“Yes,” I said, and Axel Spade nodded.

The gray-haired man turned to a bank of file drawers on the wall behind the counter. He pulled out the drawer marked D and flipped through the cards, looking for one with the name Chester Drum on it. I knew he wouldn’t find one. I’d managed to keep my nose clean on previous trips to Spain, not that it was always easy in my line of work. In Axel Spade’s it was impossible.

The bank of file drawers contained what is called, in a gambling casino, the dirty file. You appear at the reception desk, well-dressed, shoes shined, wallet stuffed with the local currency, and they smile until they find your name on one of those little index cards. You passed a bad check in Monte Carlo. You were noisily drunk in Baden-Baden. You got into a scrap over the dice table in Évian. They all have a card on it. The receptionist’s smile goes away, and so do you.

Spanish border stations come complete with dirty files too. Ordinarily at the bigger frontier posts like Irún or La Junquera they don’t look at them. But here in the mountains, where they get maybe twenty cars a day, they’re curious. There are plenty of reasons for a foreigner to become persona non grata in Spain. Though mellowing, Spain is still a police state.

The gray-haired man smiled at me. I had passed muster. He pulled out the S drawer. Axel Spade nudged me with an elbow. He was a guy who enjoyed trouble, provided he could handle it. The gray-haired man lifted a card. His narrow shoulders stiffened. He turned slowly to face us. His nicotine-stained fingers were trembling.

“You are Axel Spade?” He neither looked nor acted bored now.

“That’s right.”

“Axel Spade of New York and Geneva, Switzerland?”

Spade admitted that too.

“And you are entering Spain of your own free will?”

Spade gave him a hard, tight smile. “Nobody is holding a gun at my back.”

The gray-haired man looked as though he were going to change that. He came around the counter and ducked out the door. In a few moments he was back, leading the two Guardia Civil officers. They had unslung their machine pistols and were holding them at port arms.

The gray-haired man cleared his throat, pointed a finger at Axel Spade and said, “Arrest that man.”

“You were sure we’d save time coming through the mountains,” I said to Axel Spade.

“It would have taken five hours to cross at Irún. Maybe six. You saw the traffic.” Spade didn’t seem worried, even when the two guards advanced on him.

He raised a hand languidly, like a tired traffic cop at an uncrowded intersection. “I suggest you make one telephone call first,” he said.

The gray-haired man said, “What you suggest is of no interest to me.”

“Maybe I don’t understand,” Spade said. “Maybe you’re rich enough to retire without a pension.”

The gray-haired man ignored that. “Put them both in back,” he told the guards, “as they are traveling together. Then call Madrid. His name is—”

“—Axel Spade,” Spade said cheerfully. We were ushered behind the counter to a door. One of the guards unlocked it. I saw a bare room with a single cot, two wooden chairs and a barred window that looked out over the mountains.

Spade turned and said over his shoulder, “Don’t call Madrid. Call Pamplona. It’s closer. The ranch of Don Santiago Sotomayor.”

“Who?” said the gray-haired man.

“Santiago Sotomayor. Tell him you’ve arrested me.”

“Captain General Santiago Sotomayor?” asked the gray-haired man. He looked suddenly nervous. But the door still shut behind us. The lock clicked.

Axel Spade had come to Spain to get married.

That may not sound like much, but for anybody who knew him it was plenty. For anybody doubling as best man and bodyguard it was more than plenty. Spade attracts danger the way a heart-shaped red serge cloth draped on a wooden stick attracts a fighting bull.

Axel Spade gives professional advice to black marketeers and smugglers. His going rates for an interview are a hundred bucks a half hour, and if you need the kind of advice Spade gives, a half hour of his time is the best investment you can make. Spanish taxes on everything from watches to automotive parts being what they are, Spain is a smuggler’s paradise, and Spade had probably schooled half the smugglers who ran contraband from Gibraltar to the Málaga coast.

If you took a poll of the Guardia Civil, Axel Spade would have been voted the guy they would most like to get in a small, well-lighted room, where they could beat on his head with the butt ends of their machine pistols. Maybe they were going to do it now.

We had time to smoke a couple of Spade’s thin black cigars before the door was unlocked. The gray-haired man stood in the doorway, stiffly at attention. He had put on a visored cap, and he was sweating. Behind him were the two guards, who had removed their patent leather hats. They looked naked without them.

The gray-haired man didn’t quite salute. “Welcome to Spain, Señor Spade,” he said.

“Thank you.”

“A thousand pardons for my ridiculous mistake.”

“No problem,” Spade said magnanimously.

“If you require an escort to Pamplona—”

“We’ll manage without one,” Spade said. He was grinning.

The gray-haired man stamped our passports. The guards flanked us as we walked outside to the Jaguar. They had ditched their machine pistols. They put their hats back on as we climbed into the car, then saluted us and stood in the dust as we zoomed off. Spade took the XK-E to seventy in second gear.

TWO

The gate opened and a black and very angry two-year-old bull charged out into the plaza, skidded to a stop and looked around for something to hit with his horns. They weren’t the horns he’d develop in two more years, but they were wide-spaced and already sharply pointed and could do plenty of damage.

“Diano Segundo,” shouted the vaquero who had opened the toril gate. Even at the age of two years the bull Diano the Second had a formidable hump of muscle running from neck to shoulders, and the black tail shot straight out behind him as he spotted something to attack and lunged into a full gallop again. I began to appreciate the fact that I was seated on a bench behind the protective wooden barrera.

What Diano Segundo had spotted, as he was supposed to, was a group of four horsemen across the plaza, directly under where I was sitting with Axel Spade. One of the horsemen broke away from the others, trotted toward the bull and then set his mount sideways to the line of charge.

“This should really be something to see,” Axel Spade told me. “Old Sotomayor will do the pic-ing himself.”

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!